Results tagged ‘ White Sox ’

Something to hang our hats on

Tonight Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale dominated the Yankees, and for as crummy and as inconsistent as Phil Hughes has been this year, he didn’t pitch poorly. Hughes, allowing just two runs in a solid seven innings pitched, came up on the short end of the stick – as did the Yankees, losing 2-1 and getting swept in three games at the hands of the pale hose.

The best part of this trip to Chicago for the Yankees, aside from leaving: Derek Jeter, who homered in all three losing efforts. It marked the first time in the captain’s career he went deep in three straight games.

Thankfully for the Yankees, they will not play the White Sox again during the regular season. However if the two teams meet in October, Chicago can head into the series with a positive mindset, knowing they took five of seven games from New York this season.

If you saw my tweet from earlier tonight, the White Sox scare me.

But the Yankees can concern themselves with the postseason when the time comes, and for now worry about  fending off the Tampa Bay Rays – who have pulled to within three games of the AL East lead. That once comfortable nine-game division gap has thinned and the Rays now have a chance to swipe the East from the Yanks.

Better pitching and series wins are what the Yankees need to put first and foremost in their minds down the stretch and into September.

For tonight, though, I’d like to make reference to something that not a lot of people really know about; perhaps it’s my way of dealing with the recent sweep and being at the mercy of the White Sox.

If you follow football, which is rapidly approaching, you know that the New York Giants won the Super Bowl in February, beating the New England Patriots, 21-17. Their last game before the Super Bowl, as most fans know, took place in San Francisco. The Giants beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship game on a game-winning field goal booted through the uprights by Lawrence Tynes.

What most people don’t know is that Kyle Williams – San Francisco’s punt returner who fumbled the ball, setting up the Giants’ game-winner – is the son of White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams.

That’s right. The White Sox GM’s son was the goat of the NFC Title game.

Chicago may have completed its little sweep of New York tonight, but if you ask me, the NFC Championship game is proof of why Chicago is called the “second city” and New York is number one – which they’ve proven 27 times in baseball and most recently in football.

It may not be much, but hey, it’s something to hang our hats on.

Twitter: A Baseball Writer’s Friend or Foe?

 

A lot to feel good about tonight for the Yankees, as they routed the White Sox 12-3 to a series split.

Already leading 2-0 heading into the fifth, the Yankees’ bats came alive and they scored six runs in the frame. It began with a home run by Brett Gardner and it all snowballed from there.

Curtis Granderson tripled, Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano both singled, Alex Rodriguez doubled, Eric Chavez was intentionally walked, Russell Martin singled and Jorge Posada reached base on a walk. They sent 12 batters to plate in the fifth, which lasted 32 minutes.

The brightest sign for the Yanks was Swisher, who went 3-for-4 tonight with a home run (his first of the year), four RBIs, and three runs scored. The right fielder was 0 for his last 19 coming into the game, but came out of his slump with a solid night at the plate.

CC Sabathia gave the Yanks a nice outing: seven innings pitched, seven hits, three runs (none of them were earned), one walk, and six strikeouts. For his efforts, he picked up his second win of the year and the big man lowered his ERA to 2.25.

Sabathia was countered by Edwin Jackson, who no-hit the Yankees through the first four innings.

But don’t let the words “no-hit” fool you. He didn’t have it.

Jackson walked four straight batters in the third inning to give up a run, followed by allowing a sacrifice fly to Cano to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead, despite not giving up a hit.

Gardner’s homer to start the huge fifth inning was the Yanks’ first hit.

But enough about tonight’s squash of the ChiSox and onto the reason I am writing.

In the first inning of yesterday’s game, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was run by home plate umpire Todd Tichenor after arguing a questionable called strike three on Paul Konerko; the ball was low and inside but the ump rung Konerko up.

The Chicago skipper argued, was thrown out, then continued to scream at the ump as he walked off the field and into the tunnel on the way to the clubhouse.

What did he do next? Well, he tweeted. Twice. First:

This one is going to cost me a lot of money. This is patetic.

Then:

Today a tough guy show up at Yankee Stadium.

Major League Baseball is now reviewing his tweets, as they maintain a policy that prevents employees (including players and coaches) from making disparaging remarks about umpires.

And here is where social media and networking can get ugly.

When I first heard about Twitter, I had absolutely no desire to create an account. I was only interested in Facebook as a means to connect with my friends, family, and classmates. A friend of mine kept telling me about all of the celebrity activity on Twitter as well as all of the famous athletes who have verified accounts.

He kept nagging me and nagging me until I finally gave in and created a Twitter. At first I had no idea how to use it; I just started following all the celebrities and athletes I like, not knowing how to communicate using Twitter.

Finally I got the hang of it and figured out how to use the @mention function.

When I did get to know how to use Twitter, I tried to garner some attention. It worked, a little bit. I tweeted a Yankee Yapping investigation to ESPN baseball insider and former Yankee beat writer Buster Olney, and he re-tweeted it, in other words posting it for his followers to see.

Another former beat writer and current YES Network analyst Jack Curry is another person who has re-tweeted me; I asked him some questions and he responded to me.

During a tweet-driven Q & A session with Yankee catcher Russell Martin, I asked him what his walkup music is when he comes to bat. He answered me, saying he hadn’t yet chosen it and he would let the fans choose the song soon.

I even got a re-tweet from Comedy Central comedian and TV show host Daniel Tosh. In terms of reaching out to (and possibly hearing back from) celebrities and pro athletes, Twitter can be pretty cool.

Yet, like in Guillen’s case, it can hurt you. Anything negative you post on the internet or in an open forum, such as Twitter or Facebook, can be damaging to your reputation. There are people who have gotten fired from their jobs because of content posted on the internet. Kids have gotten in trouble in school for things they have posted on such sites.

The bottom line is, you have to be careful in terms of what you post. There are ways to protect your tweets and posts, but obviously Guillen didn’t and now it will cost him.

Another aspect about Twitter I find fascinating (and in a lot of ways scared of) is how often reporters tweet. Every Yankee beat writer tweets before the game, during the game, and after the game. They usually talk about what’s happening in the clubhouse, what’s going on with daily news, injury updates, and numbers.

All of this raises the question: is this hurting or helping the journalism industry? Is this what’s in store for the long future? Instead of game recaps and numbers from the box score, are we just going to be reading old tweets?

It’s pretty scary to think Twitter could impact the sports journalism industry in a huge way.

Even right now, in the high school sports reporting game (in which I’m currently playing), Twitter is a huge commodity. Sometimes I’m asked by former editors to tweet them the final scores of the games I’m covering, just to get them out there. I can only hope by the time I start covering professional sports I am not being asked to just tweet the game. I would rather show off my unique writing skills than my tweeting skills.

Also as a reader, I would rather read an educated game recap and be taken through the game than simply look up old posts on a writer’s Twitter account.

Not saying it will come to that, but you never know. In this ever-changing environment and the dominance of digital and social media, who knows what the future holds for sports writing.

If you want to follow me on Twitter, my username is @AJ_Martelli.

I oftentimes tweet about the Yankees; that should come as no shock. However, I tweet whimsical sayings, movie and TV quotes, and lots of phrases that have absolutely no context if you’re not with me when I tweet them. And in doing that, I garner the attention of random people.

So be forewarned.

Scrap Heap Heroes

He’s finished. He’s washed up. He’s through. He’s a loser. Why bother with this guy?

 

All things some current Yankees have probably heard over the past couple of years. But right now, no one is saying any of these things. Right now the Yankees are in first place in the American League East, mostly because of the players who were taken off the so-called scrap heap.

I’ll begin with the obvious: Bartolo Colon.

Bartolo started

Tonight he played the role of stopper, pitching eight strong innings en route to a 3-1 Yankee win over the Chicago White Sox, ending a two-game losing skid. Colon worked effectively, throwing 99 pitches, striking out six and only issuing one walk.

He only allowed one earned run, an RBI single in the sixth inning from Adam Dunn which plated Carlos Quentin. Other than that hiccup, Colon was masterful. He worked out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the second inning and his fastball had both life and movement, topping out on the speed gun at 96 mph.

So far Colon is 2-1 with an ERA of 2.77 and honestly, who expected this from him?

Probably not many people.

It’s still early in the season, and Colon has not logged more than 200 innings since 2005, the year he won the A.L. Cy Young Award. In 2007 he tossed 99 1/3 innings, but only registered 39 innings the following year. In 2009 he only threw 62 1/3 innings.

The question has to be asked: can his arm hold up for the rest of the year?

Time will tell. If he continues to pitch as effectively as he has this month for the rest of the season, the Yankees will not have a problem. However if the season rolls along and his velocity goes down, his pitches lose life and they fall flat, the Yankees may have to take action.

But they will cross that bridge when they get there. For now, the Colon signing is looking as if it was the right move. Bench Coach Tony Pena managed him over the winter and recommended him to the front office.

At the moment, Pena deserves a vast amount of credit.


Freddy the fifth starter? 

Another signing the Yankees made during the off-season, which right now is paying off, was the acquisition of Freddy Garcia.

Although Garcia hasn’t gotten a lot of mound time, he has made two starts and is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA. On April 16 he beat a powerful Texas Ranger team, pitching six innings and giving up no runs on just two hits. He only walked one and struck out one, but he made a statement with that game:

“I’m for real and I can still pitch.”

On April 24 he certainly pitched good enough to win, befuddling the Orioles for six innings and not allowing a run while giving up just two hits. He walked two but fanned seven. The Chief did not pick up the win, as the combined efforts of Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain weren’t enough to handle the O’s in the late innings.

The Yanks did win the game though, 6-3 in 11 innings.

 


Freddy Garcia is now under the microscopeGarcia still has a little bit to prove because he only has two starts under his belt in this early season. But both starts have been of the quality variety and he has demonstrated decent control and good command of his pitches.

Another signing paying dividend: Eric Chavez.

Some analysts called having Chavez on the bench a “luxury” being that he is a former Silver Slugger winner (2002) and a six time Gold Glover winner (2001-06). Again, he hasn’t had a lot of playing time (12 games played) but he is making it count when he does play.

So far Chavez is batting .348 (8-for-23) with two doubles, three RBIs, and four runs scored. He has also done a pretty good job playing defense, as he made a nice bare-handed play at third in yesterday’s game, playing third base for Alex Rodriguez who served as the designated hitter.

Chavez has had a series of injuries in his career and the Yankees took a chance signing him. That risk is proving to be a great reward, at least for now. Again, we are in the early stages of the 2011 season, and there is no telling what can happen in terms of injuries.

But if Chavez remains healthy, he could be looked at as a steal in the future; a brilliant acquisition and one of the better moves the Yankees have made in recent years.

Along with Chavez is Andruw Jones – a player once regarded as the most dangerous hitter in the National League. Like Chavez Jones is a former Silver Slugger (2005) and he is a 10-time Gold Glove winner and a five time All-Star.

Jones has played in eight games so far this year and is batting .316 with a home run and two RBIs. He isn’t as fast as he once was, and maybe not even as athletic. But serving the Yanks as the fourth outfielder, he has made a couple of good catches in left field.

As the year progresses, he could become more and more valuable to the Yankees. Jones hit 19 homers for the White Sox last year and knocked in 48 runs. If you ask me, that type of production from a bench player is definitely a plus, and in many ways a bonus.

The Yankee GM is looking to land Lee

Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman was criticized heavily by the media and the fan base for making these questionable moves in the off-season. Skeptics (including myself) thought the players taken off the scrap heap were never going to make it.

I think the only way to look at it this way:

If the GM signs the player and he bombs, the GM looks like an idiot. If he signs the player and the player prevails, the GM comes off looking like a genius.    

So far, Cashman is looking like a genius.

Yet, it cannot be stressed enough: the season is young. Very young. Through the first month each of the scrap heap signees has done extraordinarily well. They have stepped into these roles and flourished, keeping the Yankees (13-8) above the rest of the teams in the division.

But they need to keep on trucking, otherwise Cashman, as smart as he looks now, will look like a person who didn’t know what he was doing in terms of making these signings.

And for now, they are the scrap heap heroes.

     

 

Too Late For Sori, Bullpen Blows It Again

 

Bullpen was supposed to be dynamic.

Before this season began, many folks called the Yankees’ starting rotation “comically thin.” Those same folks praised the Yankee bullpen, calling them dynamic and strong. Rightfully so, considering they have Mariano Rivera, and they bolstered the ‘pen with the signing of Rafael Soriano, who led the American League in saves last year with 45 for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Right now, it’s almost as if everyone had it backwards.

A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia have been pitching great, giving the Yankees length and quality. Each of the starters, who everyone thought were going to pitch terribly, are doing their part. The bullpen on the other hand has been faltering and failing.

Case in point: tonight.

With the Yankees leading 2-1 in the eighth, Soriano plunked Carlos Quentin, who was quickly replaced by pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge (more from him later). The next batter, Paul Konerko, pulled a home run over the left field wall, giving the White Sox a 3-2 lead.

Soriano served up the lead.

The Yankees tried to stage a comeback in the ninth; Derek Jeter singled, Curtis Granderson sacrifice bunted him over to second, and then Mark Teixeira walked.

Then it became the Lillibridge defense show.

Alex Rodriguez took a pitch to deep right field, all the way to the wall. On his horse, Lillibridge ran and tracked the ball down at the wall for the second out.

Robinson Cano, as the Yanks’ last hope, lined a falling blooper to right, again setting up another excellent play for Lillibridge; he dove, caught the ball, and ended the game.


Great catches. Impressive.The only two runs the Yankees generated were by solo home runs, off the bats of Cano (in the second inning) and Brett Gardner (in the fifth).

As a team the Yanks only had four hits tonight and two of them went over the wall. The Yankees collectively have 38 homers, and it’s evident they are relying heavily on the home run.

And as they say: if you live by the home run, there’s a chance you can die by the home run.

Tonight, that was the case.

But it probably should not have come to that in the first place. The Yankees brought Soriano to New York to fill the void in the eighth inning. He was meant to get big outs in the eighth inning; to hold close leads late in the game and set up Rivera, but so far he hasn’t done much of that.

For real.

In fact, Raphael the Ninja Turtle seems to be doing more for the Yankees than Rafael Soriano.

He is 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA and he has more walks (8) than strikeouts (7). He left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths last night, not going for that popup behind the mound. Tonight he blew a tremendous outing by Nova, who pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up one earned run on five hits.

Nova walked two and struck out three, the longest outing of his young career.

It was unfortunate for Nova, because if he had won he would have moved to 2-2 on the year. Instead Soriano blew the game and his chance at his second win of the season. Soriano’s body language has also been rubbing certain people the wrong way.

is Soriano yawning?

When he surrendered the home run to Konerko, he didn’t look fazed; he remained stoic and it didn’t look as though he cared he had blown the lead. There are some pitchers who do not show emotion, but with the way Soriano has been recently pitching, it wouldn’t kill him to look a little upset with himself.

Yet as poor as Soriano has been pitching, he isn’t alone. Rivera has blown his last two save opportunities, both after good performances from the starters.


What gives, Mo? 

On April 19 in Toronto, Burnett gave the Yanks a great outing, turning in 5 1/3 innings and only allowing two earned runs. Rivera blew a 5-3 lead in the ninth and the Blue Jays went on to win 6-5 in 10 innings. Fast forward five days later in Baltimore, and another quality start, this one by Garcia.

Six innings and no earned runs by the starter and Rivera came in and once again let go of the lead. The Yankee offense bailed him out, taking the game into extra innings to beat the Orioles 6-3 in 11 frames, but it still goes as a blown save for Rivera.

The Yankee bullpen, as dynamic and strong as it can be, is not doing the job.

The only bright spot seems to be David Robertson, who has five holds so far this year. Robertson is 1-0 and has not allowed a run in 8 1/3 innings pitched. Tonight he tossed 2/3 of an inning, struck out one, and did not issue a walk.

David Robertson has been good. Everyone else?

It’s nice to know we have one guy out there doing his job, but the rest of the relievers are ghosts.

Tomorrow night Colon (1-1, 3.50 ERA) will take the hill for the Yankees (12-8), looking to get them back in the win column. He will face Chicago ace Mark Buehrle (1-2, 5.40 ERA).

As for the bullpen, minus Robertson, I have one closing thought for you:

Act like you care. Get your heads in the game. Start doing work and taking care of business.


Do work. 

Yanks Blanked By White Sox

 


Humber was solidThe Chicago White Sox had lost 10 of their last 11 games going into last night’s game with the Yankees. Behind a masterful performance by Philip Humber, they changed that, beating the Bombers 2-0 last night.

It was the first time since May 16, 2000 the White Sox have shutout the Yankees.

Humber took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, when Alex Rodriguez broke it up with a seeing-eye single up the middle. The Bronx Bombers finished the night with just three hits.

The Yankees are now 12-7 on the season, still in first place in the AL East holding a 2 ½ game lead over the second place Tampa Bay Rays.

A lot to take away from this game. First…

 

A.J. Burnett


 

Burnett was good.

The lanky right-hander tossed eight strong innings, only giving up one run on three hits. He walked two batters and struck out two.

The Yanks’ number two man threw a solid game, and it was business as usual for him, being that the calendar still reads April. Burnett was 8-0 in April games coming into last night’s game, now 8-1 overall.

Burnett still leads the Yankee staff in wins (3-1) and he needs to keep pitching in top form for the rest of the season. He has enjoyed a great amount of success in April, which is good in terms of getting off to a quick start. Last year Burnett started at 4-0, and everything quickly caved in on him.

8-1 in April is nice to look at, but Burnett is 18-24 with the Yanks in all other months.

The Yankees cannot afford to have Burnett lose it, not with their current pitching situation. Yesterday things got worse for…

 

Phil Hughes

Not an easy road for Phil hughes

So far this season Phil Hughes is 0-1 with a 13.94 ERA. The Yankees have lost each of his three starts and in those three starts, he never made it out of the fifth inning.

He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 15 with a tired arm and seemed to be making progress; getting healthier and ready to make another start. In fact, he threw around 90 pitches in Baltimore and was set to make a minor league rehab start. Things were looking up.

That is until yesterday.

Hughes threw a bullpen session and had to stop after just 12 pitches, saying he felt “deadness” in his arm. He compared the sensation in his arm to getting punched in the leg and receiving a numb feeling.

It’s hard to say why this is happening to him. Some are theorizing that his 2010 workload is the reason for his dead arm period right now. Hughes logged 176 1/3 innings last year, the most innings pitched in one season in his career.

Prior to last year, the most innings he had ever thrown in one season was 86 in 2009, a year Hughes pitched primarily out of the bullpen.

poor guy.

Was the move to the rotation in 2010 the reason Hughes has lost it?

Again, it’s hard to say. All signs point to yes, but there really is no way of knowing for sure. Hughes himself can’t even explain it, saying he needs to figure out what is going on and then take it from there.

He will go for an MRI today and maybe that will give him and the Yankees some answers. Until he comes back, the Yankees will need to continue to get stellar pitching out of Burnett, Bartolo Colon (who took Hughes’s spot in the rotation), Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova.

 

Rafael Soriano, Derek Jeter, and the Strange Play

Weird play. What happened?

In the ninth inning last night, the Yankees called on Rafael Soriano to do what he was brought here to do: hold teams down and not allow them to score in the late innings.

Alexei Ramirez stood at the plate and cracked an infield popup, throwing his bat down in disgust as he ran it out toward first base. Soriano pointed straight up as Derek Jeter, playing back at short, raced in to attempt to catch the ball.

The Captain didn’t get there in time, as the ball dropped between him and the back of the pitcher’s mound, falling in for an infield hit.

The White Sox capitalized and scored in the frame, taking a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

After the game Soriano said it wasn’t his ball. In his owns words, “You think I could catch that ball? I don’t think so. I thought Jeter or Alex was going to catch it.”

A little bloop,” Jeter said. “Right behind the mound, not much you can do about it.”

Pitchers are oftentimes uncomfortable fielding popups, scared of colliding with a teammate, stumbling over the mound, and ultimately getting injured. Soriano obviously was not keen on taking that risk.

Manager Joe Girardi said the only player who had a fair shot at catching the ball was Soriano – but added that he might not have gotten there, either.

It was a weird play, that’s the best way to characterize it. The ball was hit so softly and it was just well-placed. It didn’t have a whole lot of hang time and with Jeter and Rodriguez playing back at their positions, there was no way for them to get the ball.

Jeter, in his prime, may have been able to catch up to it. But even so, it would have been difficult given the placement of the ball.


Soriano could have done more. 

Soriano could have done more to take charge, but I understand why he didn’t. If he had gone for it, fell, and gotten hurt, I would be writing about what a foolish decision it was to go after the ball.

Bear in mind, Soriano sat out on Sunday with a strained lower back. He stated, however, that he was fine to pitch yesterday and just needed a day off.

That run cost the Yanks, somewhat, as Curtis Granderson smacked a single to leadoff the bottom of the ninth inning. He would have represented the tying run on first base if that run had not come around to score in the top half of the frame.

It didn’t matter anyway as Mark Teixeira, on a 2-0 count, bounced into a 3-6-1 double play to end the threat.

Clearly it wasn’t the Yankees’ night.

Tonight it could be, though. Ivan Nova (1-2, 7.63 ERA) will take the rock for the Bombers, battling Gavin Floyd (2-1, 4.00 ERA).

Investigative Baseball Journalism: Did I Just Solve a Mystery?

 

Ferris Bueller went to a game...

“Hey batter batter batter! Swing batter! He can’t hit, he can’t hit, he can’t hit, SWING batter!”

Ferris Bueller’s best friend Cameron Frye yelled these words at a Chicago Cubs game the day they took off from school in the 1986 comedy “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

At the game, the two friends caught a foul ball and were even shown on TV. The Dean of Students, Edward Rooney, nearly caught them but didn’t because he got Pepsi spat in his face at an arcade…

Well, it’s a long story. But if you have seen the movie, you’ll know what I am talking about.

Yesterday it was reported by Larry Granillo of Wezen-ball.com that Bueller and Frye (and Sloane Peterson, too) attended a Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves game at Wrigley Field on June 5, 1985. He gathered that by using Baseball-reference.com and the commentary that is heard in the movie during the baseball scenes.

As it turns out, the Cubs lost 4-2 to the Braves that day.

One word: impressive. With a little baseball investigation, he found out the exact day Ferris Bueller took off. And as a huge fan of the Ferris Bueller movie, I thought it was fascinating.

It just so happened that hours after I read Granillo’s article about the Ferris Bueller Cubs game, I sat down and watched another one of my favorite comedies: “Wedding Crashers.” Like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,”” Wedding Crashers” also features a scene that involves a character watching a baseball game.

Wedding Crashers. Can I find out which game it was?

Towards the end of the movie, John Beckwith (Owen Wilson’s character) was depressed; sitting on his couch he watched a Baltimore Orioles game, as the movie takes place in Washington, D.C. (which to my understanding) is located some 40 miles away from Baltimore.

I decided I wanted to make it my mission to find out what Orioles game Owen Wilson was watching. Much like how Granillo found out what game Ferris Bueller went to, I want to find out what game one of the wedding crashers was watching.

Here is what I have gathered:

·         “Wedding Crashers” came out on July 15, 2005, which probably means shooting began in 2004, thus the game he was watching probably took place in ’04.

 

·         In the film, a player is seen coming home in a home run trot. The announcer identifies the player as Jay Gibbons, who played for the Orioles from 2001 until 2007. He had some time in the show this past season, playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010.

 

·          The team the Orioles were playing had dark jerseys on. It’s extremely difficult to tell which team it was, even by zooming in as close as I can on the DVD player. The White Sox perhaps? That was my guess. No help there.

 

·         “It is gone! He is rejuvenated! And the Orioles take the lead, 3-2.” This helps.

 

·         “Well, Jay Gibbons connects; his first home run of the season off a left-handed pitcher.” Getting a little closer, I hope.

 

·         The footage in the movie was a night game from Camden Yards.

 

·          According to Gibbons’s baseball reference page, he hit 10 home runs in 2004–and strangely enough one of them did come against the White Sox.

 

I think I may have done it!!!

 

Did I do it?

It took me a little while but here goes…

On May 5, 2004, the Orioles played the White Sox at home. Gibbons had a solo home run in that game off Mark Buehrle (a left-handed pitcher) in the fourth inning, according to the baseball almanac. Before the home run, the game was tied 2-2. Gibbons’s home run made the game 3-2.

According to the recaps posted on the internet, the game was a 7:05 night game.

That home run was Gibbons’s fourth of 2004. From what I discovered in my research, his other three home runs to that point came off right-handed pitchers, meaning it was his first of the season off a lefty.

Could I have just cracked a code? I guess I will never know for sure if it was the exact game, but the pieces are there; the evidence is in place.

Just as Bueller and his friends saw a losing effort on the Cubs’ part, Beckwith (Wilson) did in “Wedding Crashers,” if I have the correct game. The White Sox battled back on May 5, 2004 to beat the O’s 6-5.

All that investigation and they lost. 


Sorry Jay. 

The Times, They Are A-Changin’ Part I

Here we are on June 11, 60 games into the 2010 MLB season. The New York Yankees are currently sitting in second place in the American League Eastern Division standings. The only team standing between the Bronx Bombers and first place is the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Through 60 games last season, the Yanks were 34-26 while this year they are 37-23. In terms of their record, the team is doing three games better this year than they were this far into last year’s campaign. But the record is just the record. The numbers are just the numbers.

 

Is this the same team we saw in 2009?

 

The answer is no.

 

As I have noticed the differences between ’09 and ’10, I will be writing a multiple-part blog over the next few days pointing out what is different in terms of the Yankees, whether it is good or bad. For the first part, I opted to write about…

 

The Core Four

 

 


The Core Four Yankees...how much longer...? 

The first thing I have noticed a difference in…well, in some ways.

 

Although Derek Jeter is still a god in New York, there’s no denying the fact that his age is (just about) catching up to him. He can still hit, as evidenced by his .296 batting average this season, but on defense he looks more off than I can ever remember seeing him.

 

Jeter can still make beautiful web gems–I haven’t forgotten about his amazing jump throw on May 26 against the Minnesota Twins. But his lateral range is just not what is used to be. According to many people I have talked to, he was never the greatest defender anyway.

 

Jeter's range has gone down, but he is still a beast 

 

I never believed that. Jeter’s Gold Gloves and patented mid-air spin speak for themselves. Unlike last year however, (so far) this year he has not looked like the Jeter of old. He only has three errors this year and last year he only committed eight, which isn’t a bad number.

 

Jeter is who he is. As Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox, said earlier this season, “Jeter is god. Who wouldn’t want him on their team?” He is right; there really is not anything bad I can say about the Captain. It’s almost taboo as a Yankee fan to badmouth or try to negate Jeter’s credibility.  

 

While this is true, it is apparent Jeter is aging–which has nothing to do with how good he is, it’s just a fact of life and what unfortunately happens to all of us! The Yankee Captain will be 36 by the end of the month and I just wonder how many more years he has left in him.

 

Then there’s Jorge Posada.

 

The Yankee catcher was injured on May 16, taking a foul ball off his foot behind the plate and sustaining a fracture. He went to the 15-day disabled list and missed about two weeks before returning to the lineup on June 2–as a designated hitter.

 


Posada has not caught since coming back from the DL  
 

 

Since coming back from his injury, Posada has not caught a game and has been relegated to the DH spot–a spot he has not been very productive in. In the eight games he has played upon his return, the 38 year-old catcher (who will be 39 in August) has only collected three hits in 27 at-bats.

 

Meanwhile, Francisco Cervelli has been clipping together a decent season in Posada’s absence. The 24 year-old is currently hitting .280. Even though he does not hit for power and has no homers, he has 25 RBIs on the year.

 

Looking at it statistically, Cervelli is hitting four points higher than Posada for average and has 10 more runs batted in. Not only that, but it seems Cervelli is becoming the likely candidate to succeed Posada. There was a stretch where Cervelli caught nine games in a row before Joe Girardi had to plug the other backup catcher Chad Moeller behind the plate.

 

I remember once thinking to myself, “Who does Cervelli think he is? The starting catcher?!”

 

But hey, it has not been a bad thing. Cervelli has done a wonderful job and possesses great offensive numbers with two outs and runners in scoring position. I can only hope he generates a little bit more power and knocks some homers out of the park.

 

Francisco Cervelli has filled in well for Jorge 

 

As for Posada, I hope he can remain healthy. In recent years he has certainly had his share of injuries and it is perfectly understandable. After all, he is playing arguably the most difficult position on the field; catchers have to take the most abuse and punishment of all baseball players.

 

After 2011 Posada’s contract is up and he will be 40. Will he be a Yankee after next year? Will he be able to catch every day? Will he retire?

 

All of these questions remain to be seen. But any way it goes, things will be different. And as far as the Yankee catching situation goes at press time, in some ways they already are. Posada has not been an everyday catcher

 

Now onto Mariano Rivera.

 

A lot of people might say really the only thing that has changed about the Great Rivera is his age. From ’09-’10 Rivera turned from 39 to 40 years of age.

 

But if you remember back on April 30, Rivera made a relief appearance against the Chicago White Sox. He suffered an apparent rib injury in his left side and did not make another appearance for over a week after he got hurt.

 

 


Mo was out for over a week last month 

I don’t remember him ever getting injured like that last season or missing an extended period of time the way he did last month. At the beginning of the season he was asked whether or not he would keep playing beyond 2010, seeing as how his contract expires at the end of the year and of course considering his age.

 

He said he does not yet know what his plans are and that he will decide after the season is over. The Yankees do however need to start thinking about what to do when Rivera’s playing days are up or if he does not come back to the team next year–whatever the reason may be.

 

I have a bad feeling that if the Yankees do not make the right choices, Rivera will not be the closer next year. Worse off, they won’t find a suitable replacement for him and they could be reduced to a “closer-by-committee” situation. One day it could be Joba Chamberlain, the next it could be David Robertson, and so on and so forth.

 

Surely nobody wants that to happen. If Rivera decides to play again, I think the Yanks need to get him back, or at least show him respect by making him a generous offer.

 

Yet, it’s not like they really went full throttle after Hideki Matsui this past off-season. Matsui was a Yankee for seven years, was a fan-favorite, respected by the entire organization, and (oh, by the way) the reigning World Series Most Valuable Player.

 

He did so much for the Yankees during his tenure in pinstripes. Matsui was beloved, and helped the team regain the title. What worries me is that the Yanks did not go for him and he is close to four years younger than Rivera.  

 

Who knows what will happen at the end of the season. We will have to wait until it plays out, but if and when Rivera leaves, what happens next? This upcoming off-season we will get the answer.

 

Last but never the least, Andy Pettitte.

 

 


Andy Pettitte is 7-1 this season 

Despite his age of 37 (he will turn 38 on June 15 {which is also my birthday!}) Pettitte is putting together a remarkable year. If he wins tonight against his former team the Houston Astros, Pettitte will own a powerful record of 8-1 on the year.

 

He currently has a 2.47 ERA, which is good for third in the American League behind David Price of the Rays and Doug Fister of the Seattle Mariners.

 

Pettitte was however taken out of the game on May 5 vs. the Baltimore Orioles with inflammation in his left elbow. He tossed five innings and registered the win, but was forced to miss a following start because of the injury.

 

Another concern is the fact that Pettitte has been on the disabled list five times in his career, all as a result of problems in his pitching elbow. Since he skipped the start after leaving on May 5 there haven’t been any more problems or concerns with Pettitte.

 

Barring a catastrophe or any more pitching problems though, Pettitte looks like he will be an asset to the Yankees down the stretch run, which is no surprise. He has been doing it for years and years; pitching in big games and always coming up big when it matters most. But again the question comes up:

 

How much longer can he keep it up? He only signed on for one year at the outset of the season and like Rivera, his future is up in the air at the moment. He is unsure whether or not he is going to pitch or pack it in after 2010.

 

Pettitte’s age and his desire to spend more time with his family have long been a topic of discussion in terms of his career. Even before he returned to the Yankees in 2007 many analysts and baseball writers speculated as to whether or not he would call it quits and retire or keep going.

 

Obviously he opted to come back home to the Yankees where he started and he was welcomed with open arms. Since his comeback in ’07, Pettitte has been a rock in the Yankees’ rotation. This season things have not changed. But next year will they?

 

They say age is nothing but a number. It’s not about how old you are but about how old you feel. But considering the recent and apparent way things have been going for the “Core Four” Yankees, I have to disagree.

 

Age can and eventually will catch up, and we are beginning to see it amongst the most beloved Yankees of our era. This quartet of special Bombers can still get it done on the diamond, despite the obstacles they have had to hurdle this season.

 

But yet again I ask… how much longer can they do this….?

 


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  
 

Vazquez To Be Skipped, Girardi Made the Right Move

To borrow a line from Spike Lee: Joe Girardi, you did the right thing.

 

 


Javier Vazquez is missing a turn in the rotation 

Before the New York Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles last night, the Yankee skipper announced that Javier Vazquez would skip his next turn in the rotation. Vazquez’s next start would have come Friday night in Boston against the Red Sox but because of his inability to pitch effectively, he has been bumped.

 

With an off-day on Thursday, the Yankees will start Phil Hughes on normal rest Friday in Vazquez’s place. They will then use CC Sabathia on Saturday afternoon and pitch A.J. Burnett on Sunday night.

 

Heading to Detroit after the series in Boston, Vazquez will make his next start on Monday night against the Tigers.

 

Vazquez has only made one start this season that has been worth anything. On April 20 he notched his only win of 2010, a game in which he scattered six hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings of work against the Oakland Athletics. In that start he walked three batters and struck out six.

 

Other than that game, Vazquez has basically been a ghost.

 

 


Javy has been a ghost, or a non-factor this year 

In his other four starts this season, Vazquez is 0-3 and the Yankees did not win any of those four games. Right now opponents are hitting .337 against the Yankees’ number four starter and his ERA is currently at an inflated 9.78.

 

The Yankees have only lost eight games this year. Half of those losses came on days Vazquez pitched.

 

Girardi had no choice but to skip Vazquez. His numbers this season are so poor and every team he has faced has decimated him, even the weakest ball clubs. The Chicago White Sox, who have the lowest team batting average in the majors with .227, feasted off Vazquez this past Saturday and touched him up for five earned runs over just three innings.

 

It’s obvious that something is not right with this picture.

 

Although Boston is not playing well at the moment (as they are currently sitting in fourth place in the American League Eastern Division standings) it was wise for Girardi to pass on him pitching at Fenway Park. If Vazquez were to go out and get Boston massacred, his confidence level would drop even further than it is now.

 

It’s not like he hasn’t lost big time to the Red Sox before (insert 2004 ALCS reference).

 

Vazquez picthed in the Yankees' losing effort in the 2004 ALCS 

 

Last night on Daily News Live (a program in which all the New York Daily News writers sit and discuss sports) the reporters brought up the idea of trading Vazquez back to the National League for another pitcher. One writer suggested dealing him to the New York Mets for Jenrry Mejia, a 20 year-old righty from the Dominican Republic.

 

Mejia is a reliever for the Mets, so I’m not sure if this move would solve the Yankees’ problem. His numbers are not bad; he is 0-1 but has an ERA of 0.90. Plus, he has only given up one earned run in the 10 innings he has pitched this year.

 

I suppose if they actually went ahead with this idea, they could move Joba Chamberlain back to the rotation and plug Mejia into his bullpen spot. But Chamberlain is too unpredictable, even in the bullpen. Plus, the Yankees will most likely not give up on Vazquez so soon.

 

 


Vazquez for Mejia??? 

However, the off-season move that sent Melky Cabrera to the Atlanta Braves and brought Vazquez to New York is so far looking like a terrible one. At this point, Brian Cashman might not admit he made a mistake in making the trade. His faith in Vazquez might not be gone just yet, and he probably still feels the scuffling pitcher can turn it around.

 

In the past, Cashman has been known to believe in a lot of the deals he makes. 

 

But if the season reaches (let’s say) July and Vazquez is not performing, he might be gone before he had the chance to unpack his bags. Just as Girardi had no choice but to skip over Vazquez’s turn in the rotation, Cashman might have no choice but to trade him away because of his ineffectiveness.

 

Adios Vazquez. Hello some other pitcher who can get the job done.

 

Vazquez needs to perform. Otherwise, BYE BYE!!! 

Yankees Take Series From Chicago, Squish White Sox

Talk about a squadoosh.

 

The New York Yankees pounded the Chicago White Sox 12-3 in the rubber game of their three-game weekend series this afternoon. The Bronx Bombers have now won seven of their first eight series this season and dating back to 2009, the Yankees have now won 14 of their last 17 series at Yankee Stadium.

 

 


Curtis Granderson will be out for a month  

Brett Gardner did a nice job of filling in for the injured Curtis Granderson, who yesterday strained his groin running from second base to third. Granderson was placed on the 15-day disabled list and according to manager Joe Girardi will “be out for at least a month.”

 

But in Granderson’s absence, Gardner did just fine going 2-for-4 with a solo home run, two RBIs, a walk, and two runs scored. Girardi said, “Gardner has been playing well and he’s going to need to keep it up because he will be playing centerfield every day for awhile.”

 


 

Brett Gardner was 2-for-4 with a homer today

Gardner took White Sox’ starter Mark Buehrle deep to right field in the bottom of the fourth for a solo home run, his first of the year. Earlier on in the first inning, Gardner knocked in the Yanks’ first run with an RBI single to score Robinson Cano.

 

Up 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Cano did some yard work of his own. With two men on base, the hot-hitting second baseman homered to right field, a three-run blast that put the Yankees up 5-0 and basically put the White Sox away.

 

“Red-hot Robbie Cano” is now hitting .387 with nine homers and 21 RBIs this year.

 

 


Robinson Cano is hitting .387 this year 

The Yankees tacked on two more runs in the sixth to widen their lead to 7-0. Nick Swisher joined the home run party and clubbed a two-run bomb to right field, his second in as many games. Swisher now has four home runs on the year and two at home, where he does not seem to hit many homers.

 

Last season, Swisher did not hit his second home run at Yankee Stadium until June 7.

 

In the bottom of the seventh the Yankees exploded for five more runs. Derek Jeter drew a bases loaded walk to score Jorge Posada, and then Nick Johnson cracked a two-run double. Mark Teixeira followed up with a two-run double of his own, giving the Yankees 12 runs on the afternoon.

 

 

Historically, Mark Teixeira hits well in the month of May 

Teixeira went 4-for-5 at the plate today, erasing his troubled April with a great start to May. It looks like the Yankees’ first baseman is keeping his elbow up more and as a result is getting around on some pitches. He is notorious for hitting well in May, so today might be just a small sample of what’s to come.

 

In the top of the ninth with two men on base, Paul Konerko crushed a three-run homer to left field to spoil the shutout and give the ChiSox their three runs in the game. It was Konerko’s 12th homer of the year and he leads the majors in that category.

 

Behind all the Yankee offense today was Phil Hughes, who absolutely puzzled the White Sox hitters. The 23 year-old righty tossed seven strong innings and gave up no runs on four hits. He walked only one batter and struck out six.

 

 


Phil Hughes has been compared to Roger Clemens 

(I’ll just say it) Hughes was dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas. But in reality, Hughes reminded me today of Roger Clemens. His delivery was very smooth, he was getting ahead of the hitters, and he was mixing his pitches.

 

There is a reason Sports Illustrated once called Hughes “The Pocket Rocket.”

 

Although Hughes was throwing a lot of strikes, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen did not think so. In the bottom of the seventh, Guillen got his money’s worth and got thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna called a ball on Gardner, Guillen did not agree, and ultimately got tossed.

 

Ozzie Guillen got tossed today! 

 

Not unusual for a manager like Guillen. However, Hughes was throwing the ball very well, and I’m sure Guillen would be the first one to say it.

 

With the win, Hughes is now 3-0 this season and he has won all three of the starts he has made. He became the youngest pitcher since his teammate Andy Pettitte to win his first three games of the year. Pettitte won his first three games as a 23 year-old in 1996.

 

Now with a record of 16-8 this year, the Yankees will remain at home for the next three games and entertain the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s just completed a weekend sweep of the Boston Red Sox despite dropping their previous two out of three to the Yanks at home.

 

CC Sabathia (3-1, 3.12 ERA) will look to keep the Yankees rolling against Jeremy Guthrie (0-3, 4.70 ERA)

Crown Cano With Many Crowns: Yankees Shutout O’s

We are just about one month into the young Major League Baseball season and already one New York Yankee is having a tremendous year. Not just a tremendous year, though. A year worthy of the Most Valuable Player Award and a batting title.

 

Is an MVP in Cano's future? 

 

I am of course speaking about the red-hot Robinson Cano, who at the end of the season could be wearing many crowns. In fact, I would not be surprised if he wins Player of the Month for April, undoubtedly just the first of his many accomplishments this season.

 

The young second baseman is absolutely locked in, going 16 for his last 24.

 

En route to the Yankees’ 4-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles tonight, he was 3-for-4 with two home runs, a double, two RBIs, and three runs scored. Cano is currently on an eight-game hitting streak and is showing no signs of slowing down.

 

He is currently leading the Yankee team in practically every hitting category, and at press time is sporting an average of .407. Tonight marked the sixth time in his career he has gone deep twice in one game.

 

 


Cano is batting .407 this year 

If you were to touch the hem of Cano’s jersey right now, you would get burned.

 

Just looking at his swing and everything he is doing at the plate right now, Cano is making me think of (a young) Ken Griffey, Jr. His easy swing and effortless follow-through resembles that of Griffey’s.

 

Comparing Cano to a hitter of Griffey’s caliber might seem bold, but it’s the truth. Back in the day, Griffey could just put on a hitting show night after night, and that’s exactly where Cano is at the moment. He is exciting everyone and is the talk of every game.

 

Maybe his new nickname should be “Cano: The Kid 2.0.”

 

 


The Kid, 2.0 

Going 5-4 on their nine-game road trip, the Yankees will now head home to play the Chicago White Sox for the first three games on their six-game home stand. On the road, Cano pounded out 17 hits and knocked in a total of seven runs.

 

He may not want to leave the road as he is currently raking, but something tells me he will continue to do just fine hitting at Yankee Stadium. After all, his average at home is .318, so I’m reasonably sure he will have no problem coming home.

 

But it isn’t just about his hitting.

 

Cano is playing some of the greatest defense I have ever seen from a second baseman. He is, without question, the best second baseman in the American League, maybe in the entire league. He proved that tonight.

 

Making a spectacular play in the field, Cano robbed Nolan Reimold of a base hit. He ranged all the way over to the left side of the second base bag, and tossing an off balance throw, nailed Reimold at first base for an out. Cano was actually on the outfield grass when he made the throw.

 

That play made even Derek Jeter drop his jaw. Cano is quite the defender.

 

Helping Cano out tonight was A.J. Burnett, who tossed eight innings of shutout ball. The lanky right-hander surrendered no runs on just three hits. He issued only one walk and struck out four.

 

Burnett, a veteran pitcher who has been in the league since 1999, improved his record to 3-0. 2010 is the best start he has ever gotten off to, as he has never begun a season with a record of 3-0.

 

 


AJ Burnett tossed eight shutout innings 

Dr. Jekyll-Burnett showed up tonight and it was just what the Yanks needed to take the series from the O’s, two games to one.

 

Burnett also improved his lifetime record to 10-2 against the Orioles and remains undefeated at 5-0 in Camden Yards. He seems to love to pitch against Baltimore.

 

I can once again say: Burnett was dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas. (My new favorite analogy every time a Yankee hurler tosses a great game)

 

A tip of the cap also goes to Marcus Thames, who had three hits and knocked in a run in the game. Alex Rodriguez also knocked in Derek Jeter with a sacrifice fly in the first inning to get the Yankees on the board.

 

However the real story of the night: Cano and his tear. Throw a bucket of water on him right now and he would probably still be the hottest hitter in baseball.

 

There’s a reason he is my favorite Yankee. I have been saying for months what a great player Cano really is. And tonight just proved my point.

 

My favorite. 

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